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Lobby Card Printing Techniques

The earliest lobby cards from the 1910s were mainly printed in brown and white rotogravure. Most of these posters were dull reproductions of photographs, although some coloring was added in by hand or stencil (i.e., Ballet Girl; The Kid). In the 1920s, lobby cards began to use cut-out effects:  black and white photographs were cut apart and mounted on plain backgrounds or assembled into a montage of pictures or drawings. Hand-designed letters and titles were then added to the cards.

It is the photogelatin process, otherwise known as the heliotype collotype process, which emerged in the 1920s, that became the most widely used printing method for lobby cards between the 1920s and 1950s. The popularity of this process is due in part to the resulting textured and colorful images. Although similar to the more expensive lithographic process, photos reproduced using the photogelatin process was usually duller and not as rich.  However, the photogelatin process was ideal for printing smaller posters such as lobby cards, which were meant to be seen up close and not from afar.

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